Healthy, Low-Fat and Vegan Broccoli Almond Soup

If you live in India, there are very few times you truly enjoy the warmth that a rich, hearty soup provides. Fortunately, we are having some wonderfully chilly weather here in Baroda and a soup was just what we needed. Dinners are best served outdoors and piping hot! I love winter so much and wish it’s a little longer this time. I can then think of going about my herb garden.

Broccoli was one of those things I used to detest as a kid. The green color in any food triggers the response that its going to be bitter or bland and not really that yummy. I am ashamed to admit, I still carry some of those feelings! For that reason, I rarely enjoy any green soups and go straight for a tomato soup or a mushroom soup. But, the other day, I had some broccoli in my fridge and wanted to do something with it. I wanted something that wouldn’t taste very broccoli-like (Go figure!). I decided to try to make a broccoli-almond soup that seems to be on every menu in India. When I Googled it, the recipes all contained cream or a roux base (butter and flour base) which just didn’t sound healthy and just didn’t appeal to me. After a lot of searching, I found a recipe that worked perfectly for me! With a few changes, I made this into a healthy, low-fat, vegan soup. It is very lightly flavored and is very easy to make! Even the most inexperienced cannot fail at this!

Broccoli-Almond Soup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup broccoli florets

1 small onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

6-8 almonds

5 cups vegetable stock (Make your own!)

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Method

  • Heat the oil in a non-stick pot on a medium-low flame. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and the onions.
  • Fry until fragrant and the onions have become translucent, about 6 minutes.
  • Next, add the almonds into the oil and stir them around for 30 seconds.
  • Finally add the broccoli florets and stir them with the oil for about one and a half minutes or until they take on a beautiful green shade.
  • Add the 5 cups of vegetable stock to the broccoli mix and cover the pot with the lid. Allow it to come to a boil and leave on a medium-low flame for 8-10 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
  • Turn the flame off and allow the mix to cool.
  • Once cooled, add the mix, in batches, in a blender and blend until smooth
  • Return the smooth mixture back to the heat. Season with salt and plenty of fresh pepper.
  • Once the soup has heated, ladle into bowls and serve.

Note: If the soup is too thick for your liking, simply add some more vegetable stock. If you don’t seem to have more vegetable stock on hand, heat 1 cup of water and add 1/2 tsp of mixed herbs like dried garlic powder, rosemary, parsley, mint, oregano or Italian Seasoning. Allow the water to come to a boil and turn the flame off. Cover with a lid and let it sit for about 5 minutes for the herbs to flavor the water. Drain the water and use the flavored water to thin the soup out.

Happy Cooking everyone!

 

 

Pea and Mint Soup – The Perfect Winter Soup

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Winters are the only times I actually enjoy eating soup. I think it is very hot through the rest of the year to able to actually enjoy soup. I had this combination a pea and mint soup for the first time at The Westin, Pune where I was just a tad hungry and a soup seemed like the perfect option. It was a rich, creamy soup and I loved the combination and of mint and peas. Since neither my mom nor I enjoy soup that much, I never looked up the recipe.

Fast forward a few months and winter is finally here! The season for hot soups, chocolate and cocoa! I was going to make whole wheat  pizzas for dinner and needed an accompaniment. I could either make a salad or a soup. I decided to go with soup and remembered the pea and mint soup I had. I was lazy. I didn’t really want to look through the recipe books in hand so I decided to Google for the recipe. A lot of the recipes I went through had cream or butter or sour cream and I really wanted something healthy and simple since the cheese on the pizza was going to make me feel guilty enough. I found this recipe which seemed just perfect for me! I decided to omit the sour cream to have a vegan and super healthy soup. In India, we do not get pre packaged vegetable stock and I absolutely refuse to use the Maggi stock cubes considering how much sodium they have! Vegetable stock makes the process a little longer but its worth it.

Pea and Mint Soup

Adapted from here 

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock (recipe below)
1/3rd cup mint leaves
400 grams frozen peas or fresh peas
salt and pepper to taste
Method

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Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Next, add the chopped onions and cook until they turn transparent and soft, about 6 minutes on a medium low heat. We do not want to caramelize the onions and just want to reduce their bite.
Once the onions are cooked, add 4 cups of the vegetable stock to the onion-garlic mix and allow the stock to come a boil.
As soon as the stock comes to a rolling boil, add the frozen or fresh peas and the mint and cook for 8 minutes for frozen peas and about 5 minutes for fresh peas. Cook until the peas are done.
Allow the mix to cool before putting in the blender in small batches.
After you have reached a smooth consistency of the pea-mint mixture, put it back on the stove and allow to warm up. At this stage, season it with salt and pepper.
Ladle into soup bowls and you are ready to serve this warm, thick winter soup!
Note:
This soup is quite thick and if you would like it thinner, add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock more.
Add the salt and pepper only once you have blended the soup to avoid over salting.

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Vegetable Stock

For 5 cups
Ingredients:
6 1/2 cups of water
2 medium-sized onions, peeled and cut into half
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tomatoes, cut into thick chunks
1 piece of carrot
7-8 French Beans
1/2 teaspoon mixed  herbs  like oregano, rosemary, thyme, mint
a pinch of salt
Method:
Add the 6 cups of water in a large saucepan and allow to simmer.
Once the water has begun to simmer, add all the vegetables in the water, with a pinch of salt and the herbs, and allow to boil for at least 30 minutes.
Once the stock has boiled and cooled, drain the vegetables and use the liquid in soups and gravies.
You can also add other vegetables that you may have in hand like celery, capsicum, potatoes and add whatever herbs you enjoy.
This is a very basic stock recipe and you can make it with a lot of variations. Mix and match and find the stock recipe that works best for you!

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Perfect soup to share with people and it might seem like it’s very difficult to make when you taste it but it could not be simpler!

Happy cooking!

Homemade Pasta

Who knew it could be so easy to make fresh pasta?

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I love pasta but am always a little put off by the fact that its almost always made of only all purpose flour and that there are so many preservatives in it. There are wheat variants available but I knew there had to be some catch to it.

When I found out we had a pasta rolling machine at home, I was excited.  I had to try it out! Making pasta at home?? Would that be difficult or easy? I began my  research.  It all came down to flour and eggs.  Thats all. Nothing more needed.

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Homemade Pasta

Serves: 3 people

Ingredients

3/4th cup Whole Wheat Flour (finely grounded)

3/4th cup All Purpose Flour
2 medium eggs
2 tbsp water

Method

1. Clean a table top and add both the flours on the table top. Mix them well  together.
2. Create a small mountain of the flour and make a well in the middle.
3. Break both the eggs in the center of the well.
4. Slowly incorporate the eggs in the flour to make stiff dough.
5. If the dough feels very dry and cannot be  completely bound with just the eggs, add one tablespoon of water at a time to ensure a stiff dough.
6. Knead the dough very well for 10 minutes.  The more you knead the dough, the better will be the consistency of your pasta.
7.Pasta dough is much drier than any other dough so ensure you don’t make it very wet.
8. Cover the dough with cling film and allow the dough to rest for at least an hour.
9. Once the dough has treated well, knead it again.
10. Cover the table top with some flour and roll the dough into a shape thin enough to go into your pasta machine.
11. Run the dough in the pasta machine till it has reached its thinnest sheet.
12. Using the cutter attachment in your pasta machine, cut the pasta into the shape you prefer.
13. Once the pasta has been cut, if not using  immediately, dry them by laying them out on a clean piece of cloth for about 3 hours.
14. To cook this pasta, heat a large pot of water with enough salt.
15. Allow the water to come to a rolling boil. A rolling boil ensures that the pasta doesn’t stick to each other.
16. Add the pasta to the boiling water and allow them to cook for at least 6 minutes.  Check after 6 minutes to see  if they are done.
17. Once done, drain the water from the pasta and add it to your favourite sauce!

We loved this pasta and S kept saying that it tastes sweeter and fresher than regular,dried pasta. The pasta didn’t feel heavy and we enjoyed mixing it with a pesto sauce and a fresh pomodoro sauce!

Enjoy a lovely Italian meal with your family tonight!!